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April 16, 2008
By Guia Del Prado
The University is hosting a screening of the documentary Alive Day Memories: Home from Iraq, along with a panel discussion about the film, at 6 p.m. Wednesday, April 16, in the Joe Crowley Student Union theater.
The film covers the lives of Iraqi veterans dealing with the physical, psychological and emotional toll of war and their return to their neighborhoods at home.
The sponsors of the discussion, the campus’ Center for Student Cultural Diversity and its Veterans Services office as well as Truckee Meadows Community College’s Veterans Upward Bound program, hope to inform the community and veterans about the issues members of the military must deal with upon returning from abroad and what programs are available to aid them.
The event will prompt discussion on topics ranging from dealing with physical injuries, the psychological effects of war and how veterans from different cultural backgrounds deal with their homecoming.
“The goal of the documentary is to let vets and the general public know about the mental and physical injuries vets have sustained while in Iraq, and the challenges they face once they begin to integrate back into civilian life,” said Aaron Modica, a support specialist for the Center for Student Cultural Diversity’s Black Cultural Cooperative.”
For veterans who have been exposed to dangerous circumstances and have retained some psychological or mental damage, one of the hardest issues in coming home has to do with how they relate to their community, said Johann Sprenger, Veteran Services coordinator.
“Some of the issues in the discussion deal with how the community views veterans in general, and how it is helping the veterans reconnect with the community they came from,” Sprenger said.
Panelists will help to stimulate a dialogue about the concerns and questions raised by the film. Modica said the panelists are Bill Baines, a member of the humanities faculty at the community college and a Marine officer in the Vietnam War; Aaron Horn, an Airborne Ranger; Alicia Adams, the Operation Enduring Freedom/Operation Iraqi Freedom program manager at the Veterans Affairs Sierra Nevada Health Care System in Reno; and Ted Varney, a TMCC student and an Iraq War veteran.
Modica believes the event is important to raise awareness in the community about veterans issues, many of which are not addressed as veterans return home from the war.
“Veterans are still returning home and requiring various forms of physical and mental care, and they do decide to enroll at university campuses,” Modica said.
“We want to show how to get veterans back and have them feel safe and accepted regardless of what job they had in the military,” Sprenger said.
One such program is the new Jacobs Foundation Veterans Scholarship, which will aid University veterans beginning coursework in the Fall 2008 semester. The program was established when Herb and Maxine Jacobs donated money to support returning vets as they continue or begin a college education.
“It is their intention to provide funding for those students, in addition to any veterans benefits (they have received), to assist them with their expenses,” said Suzanne Bach, scholarship coordinator.
The scholarship requires applicants to be in the Operation Enduring Freedom or Operation Iraqi Freedom programs, have the GI Bill and financial aid. Sprenger said the program will aid students and give them the chance for education without the worry of financial stability.
“To keep them in school and give them the opportunity to finish is the whole goal,” Sprenger said.